Here endeth the lesson.
I could mention the plethora of ants, mosquitos, spiders and hornets larger my fist.
The pungent smell of sulphur that emits when you turn on the tap/faucet.
I could mention the things that have been broken – key to front door, a couple of plates, the dishwasher and a milk frother (all amazingly during times I had an alibi).
But all this does is highlight the simple fact that I’m in Italian countryside, in a villa that draws water from its own well and that has a flipping milk frother.
I’m even making friends here. I’ve not lived in a place with a garden for a very long time so perhaps I’m behind on the times, but when did these things come into use?! Robotic lawn mowers that come and go on a schedule of their own desire, and when a little tired return home to charge up to face another day. I must have spent half my waking hours watching this thing. It’s quite something to behold.
I’m sorry, this was meant to be a tale of humblebragging pitfalls and light hearted disasters. This place just doesn’t fit with the narrative.
That said, I’m living in the city of prepubescent dreams these days, and it just isn’t legal to have an ending that isn’t bright, happy and redemptive. So maybe this is ok and I don’t need to start apologising profusely for leading you down a garden path that doesn’t end at a cliff edge.
It does offer me an opportunity to go on a slight different journey, for when the outside world is all fine and dandy, I enjoy it for a brief second and then I realise there is a whole other battle still to be fought inside the old noggin. So in I go.
Here in the villa, I’m the youngest by a good epoch. The mental age of my acquaintances has risen from 13 years of age to a good 83. And this is way of out my comfort zone. I find myself sitting up right at meals, pretending to use a napkin and hoping that someone mentions a film from the 50’s that I have watched, so I can at least appear to be somewhat informed of the important things in life.
As I’ve now lived in the United States of What on Earth is Going On for 14 years now, whenever I return to a British social setting I’m very much afforded an outsider perspective. It does feel like I’m His Royal Highness David Attenborough in the undergrowth peeking out and being mesmerised by this merry dance of strange and peculiar, but very amiable, mammals we call Brits. If anything they are hilarious to listen to.
During the day they are completely and utterly fixated by the swimming pool (oh yes, there is one here I’m ashamed to admit) and one’s interactions with it.
“Have you been for a swim yet? Oh, you absolutely have to pop in.”
“Well, I dipped my toe in for a bit.”
“How about you, Geoffrey?”
“I did a few laps earlier. Bloody marvellous.”
“Well done. It’s a little bit chilly but wonderfully refreshing.”
When the sun goes down and the pool chat is unfortunately no longer an option, they move onto more serious matters. Wine, wars and Lidl. (Lidl for those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of an introduction is a german (I know) supermarket that holds deals so good one is compelled to utter its name at every social gathering henceforth, regardless of occasion and whether there’s someone within earshot or not.)
There’s also a tremendous amount of nostalgia being shared around, and I don’t blame them at all for it. Their lives back then sounds truly lovely.
“I bought a 2 bedroom flat just off Sloane Square in 1971 for three months wages, half a bag of peanuts and a mars bar (they were much bigger back then).
Can’t tell you what it’s worth now (I can hazard a guess. Lots.)”
Of course, nostalgia is rosy cheeked and unashamedly forgiving of strife. When we dive back, we dare not shatter its warm illusions with any mention of unsavoury matters, most notably the racial and gender divides (I’ll have to give economic divides a pass, as we’re unforgivably in worse shape now). The eye of Sauron the Sentimental does not light up those areas. So a lot gets skipped over during middle-class story time, when we’re encouraged to sit back and envy their journeys through life.
Perhaps the youth of tomorrow will be the same and resent the fact they weren’t lucky enough to be born in the 80’s and 90’s when everything was cheap, life was more simple and the lawn mower robots hadn’t taken over, but I’d be very surprised if it’s as fervent as the ire we direct to the baby boomers. Those lucky sods.
They witnessed the greatest and speediest advancements in human history, and from their rememberings had a bloody amazing time during it. The music, cultural and sexual revolution of 60’s and 70’s is surely going to be the time travellers first pick for thrill inducement. Well, certainly at least for the white males amongst them.
Now the world is getting a bit shit, they’re like, alright time to bugger off. Good luck and good night.
(That said if there isn’t a Lidl in the afterlife, they’ll be back.)
Ok, that’s enough of any heaviness. This story is meant to be a fun romp and not an awkward one stand that ends with both parties faking orgasms.
I feel like it’s time to wind this down anyway. Surely everyone has given up reading by this point so it’s just me talking to myself and well, that should be reserved for my later years. It’s been a lot of fun this trip and i’m glad I was encouraged to document it a little.
The next part of my journey, for those who are passionate about the dollars spent, will appreciate the cheapness of the home legs.
PISA – LONDON – Ryan air (heaven help me) – $62.
LONDON – NYC – Primera Air – $200.
Which is astonishingly cheap. The taxes cost more than that, so I’m not quite sure what’s going on here. I never bothered reading the fine print, so perhaps I”m helping out with the washing up. That is if anyone has been stupid enough to buy the meal option. (edit: this company has now gone under. Coincidentally 2 days after I bought another flight with them. RIP Primera “how are they making money” Air).